Green hydrogen from Africa: Hope in the energy crisis

Munich/Cape Town, 06/09/2022: The news portal Merkur published an article about green hydrogen from Africa, in which Stefan Liebing is quoted and a project in Angola of his company Conjuncta is presented.

Gas is scarce, the long-planned energy transition is faltering. Now Germany is desperately looking to green hydrogen as a source of hope. Africa could become the central producer.

For the promising energy source of green hydrogen, Africa has everything that is fundamentally necessary: large areas of uncultivated land, sun, wind and hydropower. Even though Africa is usually at the back of the queue when it comes to innovation, many countries, including Germany, are now focusing on the continent.
“We expect projects on a reasonable scale as early as 2024, especially in North Africa,” says Minh Khoi Le, a hydrogen expert at the Oslo-based research institute Rystad Energy.

In May, six countries – Egypt, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Namibia and South Africa – formed a UN-backed alliance to produce vast amounts of green power. The largest initiative among them is Mauritania’s 10GW Nour project, which aims to supply 600,000 tonnes of green hydrogen a year to Europe from 2030 in partnership with the UK’s Chariot Energy Group and the Dutch port of Rotterdam.
According to the financial analysis group S&P Global, there are currently ten green hydrogen projects in Africa at various stages of development. The reason for this is the easy availability of renewable energy. According to Solomon Agbo, a physicist at the Jülich Research Centre at Delft University in the Netherlands, the export price for a kilogramme of green hydrogen from West Africa would be €2.50 – a reduction of about 34% from the €3.80 due in Germany.
As project coordinator of the H2Atlas Africa project, Agbo has identified the West Africa region to produce around 165,000 terawatt hours of green electricity per year. Germany’s hydrogen strategy foresees a demand of 90-110 terawatt hours by 2030.
The high water demand for hydrogen electrolysis is also highly significant in the choice of location. If desalination plants for seawater are used instead of rivers, lakes or groundwater, the increased energy demand and environmental impact must be taken into account.
Besides Germany, which has established partnerships with Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Angola and Morocco as part of its National Hydrogen Strategy, the EU also plans to switch to green hydrogen by 2050. So far, however, only 2% of all renewable energy investments have gone to Africa.

A 2-gigawatt hydropower plant co-financed by Germany has been built near the capital Luanda, Angola, which could be ready for operation within two years. From 2024 onwards, 400 megawatts and later up to 1000 megawatts of the previously unused capacities are to be used for the production of green hydrogen.
After the construction of the power lines, an electrolysis plant is now to be built by the German companies Conjuncta and Gauff in cooperation with Sonangol, Africa’s largest oil company. “This would enable Germany to reduce its dependence on Russian gas supplies to some extent,” according to Conjuncta head Stefan Liebing. “Africa has the potential to become one of the most important partners for Germany and Europe.”
Namibia, South Africa, Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt have projects worth billions of dollars that are at comparable stages of development and are expected to deliver green hydrogen within the next ten years.

Problems that now need to be addressed are the lack of qualified engineers, a higher export volume of projects to improve rerntability, the development of a supply network as well as logistical infrastructure.

Besides Europe, China, the world’s leading producer of green hydrogen, is now looking to Africa. The African Development Bank emphasises that it is open to all investors.